Waterloo, Iowa is a textbook example of how cities have purposely sabotaged themselves through an unquestioning belief in the suburbanization of America. The city once had a thriving downtown, anchored by Black’s Department Store, but in a fit of stupidity, built a giant mall on the outskirts of town (luckily, unlike St. Louis, still in the city limits) and proceeded to decimate the original core of the city. Good job.
There are some interesting buildings left, but a lot of sleaze, once so common in major American cities but since eradicated in the self-respecting ones since the late 1980s, still permeates much of the downtown.
There just feels like no good reason to walk the streets of what should be the most thriving part of town. They even built an elevated highway that strangles the city right down its middle.
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I grew up outside of Waterloo and went there for just about all shopping. We never went downtown because it was “bad”. I don’t know why but no one liked it. My grandma is still like that. When I was little I didn’t really know any different, but when I’m back now I can’t understand. It’s really quite nice looking and has some nice buildings, and definitely could be a great place. It’s definitely better than the crap-pile of chain restaurants and big box stores near the Crossroads.
Newton’s Paradise Cafe is a bright spot. Hopefully bodes well for the future.